Victoria's energy future is set for a considerable shake-up as one by one councils are opting to join the push to 'go electric'. The project, Victoria's Gas Substitution Roadmap, is already underway as part of the state government's plan for net zero emissions by 2045. The City of Boroondara is the latest municipality to open its arms to a gas-free future with the announcement of the Electrify Boroondara Expo to take place on Sunday 8 October.
Why Is Gas Under Scrutiny?
At present, gas accounts for 22% of Australia’s overall energy consumption. Wth a whopping 80% of Victoria’s households connected to the gas network, our state leads the way in gas-generated energy. Since the 1970s, Victoria has benefited from this cheap and plentiful fossil fuel piped in from Bass Strait. However, gas is composed mainly of methane, which is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.
Additionally, studies show that household gas use reduces air quality in the home and in some cases leads to respiratory problems. When burnt, gas can produce nitrogen dioxide and formaldehyde particles which have been known to trigger asthma symptoms. According to the National Asthma Council, around 12% of childhood asthma cases in Australia can be linked to gas stoves.
Ban on Gas
The state government has revealed plans to ban gas connection to new dwellings and apartments, as well as new public and social housing, requiring a planning permit from 1 January 2024. The Glenferrie Times conducted a brief survey of local residents about the electrify push and their willingness to go gas free. A clear majority of Boroondara residents are at least warming to the proposed change, if not outright enthusiastic. But gas still has many supporters, with some restaurants in particular feeling that it is by far the better method for cooking food.
Daniel, the kitchen manager at Ribs & Burgers (1/862 Glenferrie Rd) stated, "You need gas to cook. Simple as that. You can taste the difference between food cooked using a flame and electric cooking... I don't like electric cookers at all". Leo at Triple Taste (725 Glenferrie Rd) echoed Daniel's statement by saying, "cooking is a very precise art. I cannot effectively create our dishes without a gas burner". He added, "Deep fryer or steamer... fine. They can run on electricity, no problem. But stove-top cooking with a wok is no good with electric".
Leo, who has been working in hospitality for around ten years, pointed out that “commercial kitchens get dirty and you are constantly washing equipment. Electric devices are much more likely to break down due to exposure to so much water and they are very expensive to fix”.
While Victorians are being asked to fully embrace a new energy future, many
uncertainties remain around the state’s readiness to transition given our existing infrastructure. The hidden costs of adapting aged buildings, updating old-model fuse boxes, gas pipe removal etc.. cannot be overlooked. Additionally, little solid data exists on the current electricity grid’s ability to handle widespread increased dependence.
What incentives are there?
Property owners who wish to take advantage of government incentives, can claim a variety of rebates for ducted heating and cooling, hot water systems and solar panels. The Solar Homes program offers up to $1,400 solar panel rebates, interest-free loans of up to $8,800 for household batteries and up to $1,000 in hot water rebates.
The Victorian Energy Upgrade is the state government's energy efficiency program, where households and businesses can receive rebates or discounts on energy-saving products installed by an accredited provider. A range of rebates are on offer, incentivising households to replace gas appliances with efficient electric alternatives, install smart appliances and receive home energy rating systems.
For businesses with an annual turnover of less than $50 million, this year’s federal budget included bonus tax deductions of 20% on spending that supports electrification and more efficient use of energy. Eligible assets or upgrades need to be first used, or installed ready for use, between 1 July 2023 and 30 June 2024.
ELECTRIFY BOROONDARA EXPO:
SUNDAY 8 OCTOBER, 10AM-4PM HAWTHORN ARTS CENTRE 360 BURWOOD ROAD, HAWTHORN
Ahead of the event, attendees can book one-on-one Eco Chat sessions with electrification experts and learn how to plan and implement their electrification transition. Bookings can be made now on: electrifyboroondara.org
Attractions Will Include:
I want to go solar, so where do I start?
Health benefits of electrification
Why get off gas?
I don't have money
Electric vehicle and e-bike showcase
Induction cooking demonstrations
Around 50 stallholders
Lucky door prize